Do I hear a billion? Sotheby’s sales surge

Posted filed underArt Market, Auctions, England.

Recession? What recession?

“It might seem like everything is crashing down around Austerity Britain, but judging by the bumper-billion-pound sales figures disclosed by one London auction house, it appears now is the perfect time to cash in on those artistic masterpieces you’ve left gathering dust in your attic.”, writes The Independent. “Sotheby’s in London’s upmarket New Bond Street sold nearly £1bn of fine art in its sales during 2011, according to results filed at Companies House. And with global sales of fine art estimated to have hit £35.8bn last year, it appears Britain is taking a significant chunk.

The biggest sale of the year was Francesco Guardi’s Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon, which yielded £26.7m. It was later subjected to an export ban by the Culture minister, Ed Vaizey, in order to give potential British buyers the chance to raise enough cash to keep it in the country. Nevertheless, it helped to boost total sales at the London auction house to £931m, up more than £50m on 2010.

One private collection broke several records when it fetched £93.5m last February, including the £23m sale of Francis Bacon’s triptych of studies of fellow painter Lucian Freud, and Salvador Dali’s £13.5m portrait of French poet Paul Eluard.

Among the other highlights of the year were Austrian artist Egon Schiele’s rare cityscape Häuser mit bunter Wäsche, Vorstadt II (Houses with Colourful Laundry, Suburb II), which took £24.7m, and Pablo Picasso’s £25.2m La Lecture.

The London auction house’s sales were particularly striking given that it faces competition not only from local rivals such as Christie’s, but also scores of sister houses overseas. Indeed, two of the group’s forthcoming headline lots are to be sold in New York: Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream, which could fetch up to $80m (£50.5m), while bids of up to $50m are expected for an Elvis Presley portrait by Andy Warhol.”

Read on at The Independent